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April 2008 RNR

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Below is the newest installation of Research News Reporter (RNR) Online. Previous editions can be viewed in the Archives.

April 2008


IWPR’s Research News Reporter is distributed to highlight informative, innovative, and sometimes controversial research related to women and their families.

Research Making News
1. “Family-Friendly Work Benefits Falling Short”
2. “Women in Finance Paid Less for Comparable Work”
3. “Sex Infections Found in Quarter of Teenage Girls”

Research Reports
1. Girls in the 'Hood: The Importance of Feeling Safe
2. Overcoming Obstacles, Optimizing Opportunities: State Policies to Increase Postsecondary Attainment for Low-Skilled Adults
3. Current Strategies to Employ and Retain Older Workers
4. From Work to Retirement: Tracking Changes in Women’s Poverty Status
5. “Give ‘Em Something to Talk about: The Influence of Female Candidates’ Campaign Issues on Political Proselytizing”


Research Making News _____________________________

Each selection includes a short excerpt, link to the news article, and link to the research cited:

“Family-Friendly Work Benefits Falling Short”

The San Francisco Chronicle
By Tyche Hendricks
February 26, 2008

Citing: Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers, 1961-2003 by the U.S. Census Bureau

“Diane Freeman, a mother of two and the marketing director for a San Francisco law firm, is among a growing proportion of American women who are working through their pregnancies and then returning to work just months after the birth of their babies.

‘The company has been really supportive; they've let me alter my hours,’ she said. ‘Work provides me balance, but I do wish I didn't have to work as much, and I wish I could've had a longer maternity leave.’

Like Freeman, 55 percent of American women at the beginning of this decade were back at work by the time their first child was 6 months old, and two-thirds were working by the child's first birthday, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  Four decades earlier, just 17 percent of mothers were working by the time their first child was a year old.

[...]On the one hand, today's high proportion of working mothers reflects legal and cultural triumphs for women, including laws that prevent discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and that require employers to grant maternity leave, and attitudes that women can be fire chiefs, corporate executives and even U.S. presidents.

On the other hand, some analysts say, family-friendly policies have not kept pace with the movement of women into the workforce, leaving parents without sufficient time to bond with their infants and care for their children even as the economy now calls for two-income households.

‘By the late 1980s, women had changed their identity and their actions, but the men they came home to and the jobs they went out to had not changed as much or as rapidly,’ said UC Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild, the author of several books about juggling work and child-rearing. ‘That led to a stall in the revolution. We are still in a stalled revolution, and this is 28 years later. ... There's a care deficit.’”

To view the full article, visit The San Francisco Chronicle online.

To view the report, Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers, 1961-2003, click here:

“Women in Finance Paid Less for Comparable Work”

Crain’s New York Business
By Tommy Fernandez
March 7, 2008

Citing:  2007 Member Survey by the Financial Women’s Association

Women who work in finance say there are no better off than in 2002, according to a survey by a Manhattan-based organization. In some areas, women might actually be worse off.

In the survey, conducted among 259 members of the 1,000-member Financial Women’s Association, 96 percent said they believe women are paid less than men for comparable work.

Nearly two-thirds consider their gender a factor that holds them back in their careers, and many cited a lack of access to decision-makers, mentors, or type of assignments critical for career advancement. Entrepreneurs also felt they had limited access to funding sources need to start a business.

When asked whether certain business conditions were better today than three years ago, only 10 percent of women believed issues of pay parity had improved, compared with 20 percent of women in the Association’s 2002 survey.

Overall, compared with the 2002 survey, a greater percentage of women said conditions had not improved in several key areas: the number of females on Fortune 500 boards, the presence of corporate or government programs that addressing working women’s issues, and firms’ provisions for on-site childcare.

Among the obstacles perceived to be mitigating women’s career advancement were access to flex time/part-time, corporate culture, female stereotypes, family obligations and lack of line-management experience.

Other factors included issues of ‘old boys’ networks, women not supporting other women and a lack of mentors. Respondents also cited issues related to ‘not being political or knowing how to play the game,’ ‘own fears/lack of self confidence’ and ethnicity.”

For the full article, visit Crain's New York Business online.

Full results of the 2007 Member Survey are still being processed.  To view the press release, click here

“Sex Infections Found in Quarter of Teenage Girls”

The New York Times
By Lawrence K. Altman
March 12, 2008

Citing:  Oral Abstract D4a – Prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Infections and Bacterial Vaginosis among Female Adolescents in the United States: Data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004 from the 2008 National STD Prevention Conference.

The first national study of four common sexually transmitted diseases among girls and young women has found that one in four are infected with at least one of the diseases, federal health officials reported Tuesday.

Nearly half the African-Americans in the study of teenagers ages 14 to 19 were infected with at least one of the diseases monitored in the study—human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, genital herpes and trichomoniasis, a common parasite.

The 50 percent figure compared with 20 percent of white teenagers, health officials and researchers said at a news conference at a scientific meeting in Chicago.

The two most common sexually transmitted diseases, or S.T.D.'s, among all  the participants tested were HPV, at 18 percent, and chlamydia, at 4 percent, according to the analysis, part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

[...]  Officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the findings underscored the need to strengthen screening, vaccination and other prevention measures for the diseases, which are among the highest public health priorities.

About 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur each year among all age groups in the United States.

[...]The president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards, said the new findings ‘emphasize the need for real comprehensive sex education.’

‘The national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure,’ Ms. Richards said, ‘and teenage girls are paying the real price.’”

For the full article, visit The New York Times online.

To view research highlights from the 2008 National STD Prevention Conference and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s study, click here:


Research Reports _________________________________

Each selection includes a short excerpt from the research and a link to the report:

Girls in the 'Hood: The Importance of Feeling Safe

Susan J. Popkin, Tama Leventhal, and Gretchen Weismann
The Urban Institute’s Center on Metropolitan Housing and Communities
March 2008

“The Moving to Opportunity program targeted families living in some of the nation's poorest, highest-crime neighborhoods and offered them a chance to move to lower poverty areas. One hope was that, away from concentrated poverty and the risks associated with it–including poor physical and mental health, risky sexual behavior and delinquency–families would fare better. This brief examines how adolescent girls benefited from moving out of high poverty and discusses why girls might have fared so much better than boys.”

To view the full report, click here:

Overcoming Obstacles, Optimizing Opportunities: State Policies to Increase Postsecondary Attainment for Low-Skilled Adults

Prepared for Breaking Through by Amy-Ellen Duke and Julie Strawn
Center for Law and Social Policy
March 2008

“This paper provides an overview of state policies that can be most successful in helping lower-skilled adults enter and succeed in college and careers. The paper introduces a series of state policy reports developed as part of Breaking Through, a national project that is helping community colleges identify and develop institutional strategies that can enable low-skilled adult students to enter into and succeed in occupational and technical degree programs at community colleges.”

To view the full paper, click here:

Current Strategies to Employ and Retain Older Workers

Lauren Eyster, Richard W. Johnson, Eric Toder
The Urban Institute
March 2008

“As the U.S. population ages and the number of people reaching traditional retirement ages increases, employers may need to do more to attract and retain older workers, many of whom are highly experienced, knowledgeable, and skilled. To attract older workers, however, employers may need to rethink traditional workplace practices. Many older people prefer part-time work so they can enjoy more relaxed lifestyles and pursue leisure activities. Others need flexible schedules to accommodate family care responsibilities or their own physical limitations. Many older people can afford to cut back their work hours only if they have access to employer retirement benefits. Policies that prevent part-time workers from collecting retirement benefits from their current employer often force older workers to leave their career job and work reduced schedules elsewhere, squandering firm-specific skills accumulated over long careers.

[...] This report, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration to support the work of the Taskforce on the Aging of the American Workforce, describes current strategies used by employers to help attract and retain older workers and by nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and the government to facilitate their employment.”

To view the full report, click here:

From Work to Retirement: Tracking Changes in Women’s Poverty Status

Sunhwa Lee and Lois Shaw
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
February 2008

“This study examines the extent and possible causes of women’s poverty as they move from midlife into their retirement years. Using longitudinal data collected from a group of women over three decades, the study traces how changes in women’s major life course characteristics—such as marital status, labor force status, and health status—influence the risk of poverty as they move to pre-retirement, early retirement, and then to late retirement years.”

To view the report, click here:


“Give ‘Em Something to Talk about: The Influence of Female Candidates’ Campaign Issues on Political Proselytizing”

Atiya Kai Stokes-Brown, Florida State University, and Melissa Olivia Neal, University of West Florida
Published in Politics and Policy, Volume 36, Number 1, pages 32–59
February 2008

“Previous research has demonstrated that the presence of a woman on the ballot is linked to political proselytizing among women. Yet this type of political engagement is enhanced when certain contextual conditions are met. We hypothesize that women are more likely to proselytize when female candidates stress women's issues than when female candidates do not emphasize women's issues. Using American National Election Study (ANES) data, we find that the combined effect of candidate gender and candidate issues is positively related to proselytizing among women. However, economic issues, not women's issues, increase women's attempts to influence others' votes. Overall, the results demonstrate that female candidates and their issues provide important contextual cues to women that help in activating their political voice.”

To view the article, click here:



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